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What I Learned While Playing the Super MNC Invitational

In Monday Night Combat, I often played Tank and Assassin.1  I was pretty good.  Not the best player, but I was definitely above average.  MNC was a lot of fun because it was fast-paced and action was spread across the entire map—which in turn meant I used the entirety of the map when I played.

Then I started playing Super MNC in November, and I found it to be lacking.  It was slow, action was always too far away, and very little of the map matters.  In fact, I’ll go as far to say that SMNC is the worst game ever.  It’s certainly worse than MNC.

Maps are too confined.  Lanes are walled off and there aren’t very many options for movement.  Once you’re in a lane, you’re stuck there until you can break off and go into the other lane.  It’s awful, so it makes for many games where you just stand on an ejector until you can push your bots off of it.

Turrets are negligible.  They’re just there, and you can’t defend them.  You can’t rebuild your defenses.  You can’t even heal your turrets.  Once they’re attacked, they can’t recover.  It’s a battle of attrition and you’ll always lose.

Leveling is pointless and uninteresting.  Damage increasing passively makes the offensive skill less interesting as a choice.  You don’t really have to upgrade it because it doesn’t have a noticeable difference.  Health increases passively, making the defensive skill suffer for similar reasons.  Not only that, but skill upgrades are pointless because you’ll have everything by the end of the game anyway.  These are only interesting choices in the early game.

There’s less strategy required than in MNC.  With a decrease of things to do, there is also a decrease in depth.  Fights always devolve into who has more people.  There’s nothing to think about, so the game ends up feeling very slow and boring.

Lastly, all of the characters kind of suck.  There isn’t a single character that is fun to play.  In MNC, the only character that wasn’t fun to play was the Sniper, because hanging back and taking pot-shots at players and bots is really boring.  Thanks to lowered lethality and the other factors mentioned above, every class in SMNC ends up playing like the MNC Sniper.

That’s what I used to think; I couldn’t understand why Uber would insist on making a game that was worse.  Having had a chance to actually play the game—that is to say, not getting stomped nor stomping the other team—my opinion has changed dramatically.

C-C-Counter!

Maps are too confined, but it’s more about presence2 now than mobility.  Cheston has a huge presence and can make better use of the confined space than the Tank, who is slower.  It’s important to play to the strengths of the character and be in the appropriate parts of the map—you’re more likely to find a Commando in the jungle than in the lanes.

Turrets aren’t negligible and can be defended.  However, defending requires putting life and limb on the line.  You have to be willing to take those critical shield-shattering bot shots for the turret because you really cannot afford to let your turrets to be destroyed.

Leveling is pointless, to an extent.  Cranking up the damage as the match progresses and scaling bots and gains and such to match doesn’t make sense… assuming that everyone levels up at the same pace.  Between unfamiliar players doing a lot of feeding3 and players who can clear bots effectively, it’s obvious that players do not level equally.  Additionally, being under-leveled means having to consider all of your actions.  On top of that, the thing about skill upgrades is choosing what is good for the situation, what fits your play style, and what you’re going up against; you’re not going to upgrade your defensive skill if you aren’t taking very much damage, for example.

Regarding strategy, I will still say that there is less needed than MNC.  However, there is certainly more coordination required.  In MNC, one person could execute a strategy.  In SMNC, several players are required to execute a strategy, which presents more opportunities for that execution to fail.

As far as characters go… My initial impressions were that Combat Girl seemed like something that would be fun if she wasn’t so underpowered, while Assassin and Tank just plain sucked.  None of the other characters really resonated with me until I bought Cheston on a whim.  Cheston was a blast to play before Update 20 nerfed him.  Having found a character that played rather similarly to Tank in MNC was the key factor here.  Since Update 20 came out, I’ve been finding that Combat Girl isn’t as underpowered as I thought.  Not only that, but having adapted to the new Tank I find that he is actually rather good; I just relied too heavily on death blossom and product bomb having short, spammable cooldowns in MNC.  I still say Assassin is awful, but that’s mostly because I played her super aggressively in MNC, and I haven’t had a chance to play her properly in SMNC.

The most important thing I learned from playing SMNC:

Know yourself.  If you’re a social gamer like me, then you should definitely play with people you know in a controlled (coordinated) environment.  PUG’ing4 and/or quick matching solo is not a good idea.  Don’t get me wrong, solo play can be fun—I’d say that 58 of my 62 hours (as of this writing) has been solo play.  Playing on a team gives you more freedom to actually experiment with the character you picked.

  1. Tanks are great for pushing bots. Assassins are great for killing bots. Both are extremely mobile and great for killing players.
  2. Presence defines the character’s innate ability to influence their immediate space.
  3. Player kills award more money than bot kills. New players tend to die a lot at the hands of more skilled players. Thus, feeding.
  4. Pick-up group: grouping with random players.

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